Tunisia will extradite former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's prime minister to Libya and the handover could take place in "days or weeks", Tunisia's Justice Minister Noureddine Bouheiri has said.
A Tunisian court dropped charges of illegally entering the country against Al Baghdadi Ali Al-Mahmoudi in February but he has remained in jail since last year, pending a decision on his extradition to Libya.
"The government has decided to hand over Mahmoudi and all that remains is the completion of some organisational issues," Bouheiri told Reuters news agency in an interview.
A Tunisian court had ruled in November that Mahmoudi should be extradited, but Tunisian President Moncef al-Marzouki later said the handover would not take place until the situation in Libya had stabilised and he could be guaranteed a fair trial after Gaddafi himself was killed by rebels.
That left Mahmoudi in an unusual position, in which he was acquitted of charges in Tunisia but remained in custody pending agreement with the Libyan government over his fate.
Asked when the handover might happen, Bouheiri said: "This could be within days or weeks or perhaps longer... Our Libyan brothers have pledged to respect Mahmoudi physically and emotionally and to give him a fair trial."
Mahmoudi was for years a powerful figure inside Gaddafi's ruling elite, though he clashed repeatedly behind the scenes with Saif al-Islam, one of the fallen Libyan leader's sons who has since also been captured.
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|Timothy V. Gatto|